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Microsoft Decides To Take On Linux On Low-Cost PCs

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  • The pitch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @11:54AM (#23361334) Homepage
    "For just a little extra money, you can have degraded performance and not have to worry about all that controlling-your-own-hardware nonsense"

    Alas, like most of their similar pitches, I'm putting my money on it working spectacularly.
    • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @11:58AM (#23361360)
      Heck, if you cluster 7 or 8 of those bad boys together you could probably run a stripped down version of Vista.
      • Re:The pitch (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DECS (891519) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @03:17PM (#23362908) Homepage Journal
        If only Vista had the ability to run across multiple machines.

        Which highlights the HUGE elephant in the room on this issue: the whole thing is a marketing ploy, not a tech related solution.

        The Problem:
        Microsoft is finding its core PC maker customers are bleeding away at the very low end ($300 PCs) where the Windows OEM license is just too expensive to justify. If it allows this to continue, progress made in Linux on those devices will trickle up into more and more complex and sophisticated devices, quickly making OEMs wonder why they're paying for a Windows license on full price desktop PCs and laptops.

        Microsoft's Solution
        Announce that Windows can be stripped down and will be sold for low end PC devices (ie, a marketing announcement).

        The Real Solution Required
        Developing a scalable OS that can actually work on low end PC devices. Currently, Linux scales down much better than Windows XP, and Vista is only getting larger. Microsoft has to invest in stripping down XP, another distraction from Vista.

        Microsoft spent ten years working on WinCE, which doesn't work well enough for anyone to use in the hand held PC realm that it was expressly designed for. If you want to argue about technology limitations of the day, then remember that desktop Linux was being developed at the same time as WinCE, 1998-2008. WinCE can't blame its shortcomings on existing technology of the day.

        There is no evidence that Microsoft has the technical chops to developer a suitable mobile OS. "Embedded XP" is just XP sold to fill the market for PC-based devices. "Embedded CE" is just WinCE sold for non-PDA devices. Microsoft has no mobile OS to sell, and clearly has no ability to develop one anytime soon. It couldn't deliver decent performance in Vista within a half decade of trying, and that was just a PC desktop OS overhaul.

        Linux already works and is free.

        Interestingly, Apple has ported its desktop OS to the iPhone/iPod Touch "WiFi mobile platform" as a low power, flexible, but intentionally limited feature set (ie, not a desktop GUI nor a small laptop), offering a different alternative to Linux based micro-laptops rather than trying to ape them.

        Microsoft should have pursued an original strategy like Apple or delivered a mini-desktop that works like the Linux community. Instead, it's in the position of trying to FUD Linux to death with a press release, despite not having the technology to sell.

        Of course, this has all happened before.

        The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile [roughlydrafted.com]

        Zune Sales Still in the Toilet [roughlydrafted.com]
    • Re:The pitch (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AndGodSed (968378) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:12PM (#23361494) Homepage Journal

      like most of their similar pitches
      I went for an interview recently, and the owner of the company remarked on my Linux experience and told me how much better the MS environment is for developing in, and how good a "properly set up and maintained" MS server is.

      His pitch was a word for word copy of the MS FUD you get on their website.
      • Re:The pitch (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:01PM (#23361806)
        Yeah but was the guy a chump or was he just baiting you to assess your reaction?

        And just because the guy's a chump doesn't mean that he's wrong. If their cheap hires are *nix illiterate or they suck so badly as an employer that they can't retain staff; then the point-click-drool solution doubtlessly is "better" for them.

      • Re:The pitch (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:02PM (#23361822)
        ***His pitch was a word for word copy of the MS FUD you get on their website.***

        Perhaps you might wish to consider politely turning down any job offer that results from the interview. There are good reasons for having a Microsoft environment. The beauty and elegance of Microsoft's software is not one of them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tonyr60 (32153)
          My stock response to that sort of remark is "Oh, which versions of Linux are you familiar with?" Then gently lead into the idea that one needs roughly equivalent exposure to an OS (or App, whatever) before committing to the best one.

          If the victim has half a brain you can usually make some traction. Otherwise best to just move on ASAP.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mazarin5 (309432)
        If there's one thing I'll give them, it's that Visual Studio is very, very nice. This is because it's necessary to make things as convenient as possible for developers at all levels to develop for windows; it's a critical part of the feedback loop: more people use windows, let's program on windows <-> there's more program on windows, let's use windows.

        So they make it as easy as possible for users, and spend their time making a good suite for programmers; it's a good strategy.

        Everything else, not so go
    • Re:The pitch (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cpricejones (950353) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:39PM (#23361654)
      I think it's worthy to note that Vista costs as much as the low-cost PCs.

      (I base this on the near 300 dollars for Vista Ultimate and near 200 dollars for Home Basic.)
    • Re:The pitch (Score:4, Informative)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday May 10, 2008 @03:46PM (#23363122) Journal
      Oh, don't forget that most of these things are using SSD for storage, and there has never been a version of Windows that didn't just LOVE to pound the swap. I even got to play with XP embedded for awhile when I was doing some temp work with a medical supply company and even embedded it just LOVED to pound the swap. Meanwhile I have Xandros 4.1 business on my laptop with a measly 512Mb of RAM and the difference is like night and day. XP will heat up the drive after an hour and a half or so from the swapping, whereas Xandros doesn't seem to touch the drive once I've loaded my apps. I can even stand to have it setting on my lap but when I run XP it gets too uncomfortable from the heat. But that is my exp,YMMV.
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Saturday May 10, 2008 @11:55AM (#23361338) Journal
    You create artificial shortages and cripple the hardware to keep the market from "eroding". I guess we don't don't create markets to sell products anymore. We create them for their own sake. That's quite a monster you got there.
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Tenebrousedge (1226584) <tenebrousedge@gm a i l . com> on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:49PM (#23361734)
      I am sick to death of Microsoft being in bed with the large hardware manufacturers. I'm sure most other people here are too. I wonder if it's possible to look at this in a good light? Hmm...Spin Doctor says:

      This move will bring the stability and usability of windows to those who have previously been priced out---damn, not working.

      This move will bring the stability and usability of windows to a fresh new market that Microsoft has yet to abuse---dang.

      It's just what everyone wanted---more stripped-down versions of windows!

      I don't think I'm getting anywhere here. Anyone else care to give it a try?
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

      by martyros (588782) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:11PM (#23361900)
      You know what's funny, is that just today I took a mandatory online training course on anti-trust regulations, just like everyone in my company does. It was funny reading the article, because like at least 3 or 4 things were specifically mentioned:
      • Predatory pricing to prevent a new entrant into a market by a company with market dominance
      • Limitations on what resellers can do with the product purchased (only on low-end PCs)
      • Arbitrary discounts to some distributors over others
      • Agreements between different members of the supply chain to limit customer choice
      If the EU is at all consistent with the policies explained in my training today, MS should be forced to either sell low-cost XP to everyone, regardless of the hardware, or not sell XP at all. Who do I write in the EU to get an injunction?
  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @11:55AM (#23361340)
    If the plan is to deliberately cripple the low end Pc hardware specs, then how can you get decent performance out of windows? I remember that XP would barely run wel lat all on my old computer, so wouldn't Windows 2000 be more suited to this task?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Maestro485 (1166937)
      They aren't as concerned about these ULPC's from running Windows as they are that Linux will use these low cost devices as a springboard into the desktop market. They want to limit the specs so that any machines sold over that spec must be sold with a Windows operating system. That way, anyone outside of the low-cost niche market will still be forced to buy Windows.

      It smacks of anti-trust issues but that really isn't a big surprise anymore.
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @11:56AM (#23361346)
    How will Microsoft compete? It is very common knowledge that Windows runs slower on any given system than Linux does. The low-end PCs are not beefy by any means. Linux will just feel snappier and also shouldn't need as much RAM for similar tasks.

    In the low end, it seems like all MS will be doing is highlighting their shortcomings.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bsDaemon (87307)
      In this month's print edition of Popular Mechanics they do head-to-head comparisions of Mac and similar PCs (iMac vs Gateway One, for instance).

      The Mac's smoked the PCs in pretty much everything, despite the PCs having more RAM. More telling was that the Macs ran Vista faster under Bootcamp than the PCs did.

      The morale of the story is, Windows fails even in its native market. I think they're hoping that by getting into this market, they'll make the products so unattractive that no one will buy them (and cl
      • by AndGodSed (968378)
        Well, Apple have one big advantage when it gets to their Operating System.

        They get to decide what hardware they use, and limit the hardware to a rather narrow range. Hence they can develop their software to run optimally on very specific hardware. Hence their hardware/software combination is extremely optimized.

        MS, and most Linux distributions, need to make sure their software runs on a wide range of hardware, so they cannot spend a large chunk of their developing time/budget on fine-tuning their software t
      • they have to scratch Intel's back too! After all, eeePC is using the same low end chips as cheap laptops.... Intel really wants to sell Atom at a lower price... with stripped out performance. Right now eeePC is "too good" and "too cheap" for either company to allow as it makes basic computing very low cost.

        Hint: what is the real difference between a $500 eeePC and a $1200 Macbook (with integrated graphics) in terms of general users? Neither is designed for "pro" apps or games, so why buy the really expen
    • by symbolset (646467) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:36PM (#23361642) Homepage Journal

      How will Microsoft compete?

      They don't compete any more. They mandate. Their problem seems to be that OEMs are now following along by releasing systems under their mandate, but also building neat stuff outside the mandate. They can't do anything about the fact that their mandate subtracts value, making the new Linux gear immensely popular.

  • Once Joe Random use linux on a low priced pc, why would Joe Random want to pay the Microsoft Tax ever again?
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:02PM (#23361402) Homepage

      Once Joe Random use linux on a low priced pc, why would Joe Random want to pay the Microsoft Tax ever again?

      Because Joe wants to run Calendar Creator or some such nonsense. He doesn't want to type "sudo apt-get install $whatever". He doesn't even want to use Synaptics Package manager. He wants the damn CD he bought in the bargain bin at WalMart to load and install.

      He wants IE and all the stupid toolbars.

      He doesn't want to think about this appliance he bought.

      And he especially doesn't want to go online and post a question to a forum. Even the warm and inviting Ubuntu forums. He just wants it to work. (Irony noted).

      • by SleepyHappyDoc (813919) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:15PM (#23361514)
        He's gonna have a hell of a time finding where to put the CD in on one of these low-cost laptops. I have yet to see one with an optical drive.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by canuck57 (662392)

          He's gonna have a hell of a time finding where to put the CD in on one of these low-cost laptops. I have yet to see one with an optical drive.

          First, CDs are dinosaurs. Just download it.

          If you need to, just ship the software on a USB which can also double up as storage. Seriously, in bulk they are cheap. And can be reused for backups. In my case, these can get it off of my Linux media server. With 1TB of disk on the end I could watch 200 movies.

          The last laptop I bought, I took the CD-DVD player out and put a second battery in it and never used the CD-DVD device. And if kids use it, one less thing to break and consume power uselessly.

      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:21PM (#23361552)
        So ... your mythical Windows user bought the cheapest box he could find ... and then wants to spend MORE money ... at WalMart ... on applications?

        When he could just download the app at home.
        • by Larry Lightbulb (781175) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:12PM (#23362366)
          Joe User likes doing crosswords, so much so that he uses Across Lite to do the New York Times crossword. For his Windows box he clicks a link and follows the prompts. For his Linux box he, well, he has to know what this means: "Across Lite is available in a statically linked (to Motif) version and a dynamically linked version. Both versions are ELF binaries. The a.out versions have been discontinued. If you must have the last a.out version, send E-mail to the Across Lite Help Desk" "You must use gunzip or an equivalent to uncompress the file and tar to extract the program and puzzle files. Check the README file in the distribution for starting instructions." Joe User sticks to doing crosswords on his Windows box.
      • Good ole joe (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:02PM (#23361818) Homepage
        I know Joe. He wants a lot of things. He wants our web design firm to make it so that whatever funky formatting he tries to paste in from MS Word will come out in the site exactly how it looks in Word.

        Joe has a problem: the cost of creating an online application that mirrors Word (and Excel and friends) exactly is in the several-millions, and is furthermore legally proscribed by patents anyway.

        We can hook Joe up with some great RTEs and OOo templates that work for a couple thousand dollars, but Joe wants the illegal multimillion dollar project for $2,000.

        I'm not interested in trying to accomodate Joe anymore.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by syousef (465911)
        Because Joe wants to run Calendar Creator or some such nonsense

        This dismissive attitude is one major reason that Linux isn't further along taking over the desktop.

        Name me a good Linux alternative to the following software:

        1) Microsoft flight simulator 2004 or FSX
        No Flightgear doesn't even come close to cutting it. It's years behind.

        2) Chessmaster X or XI or even Fritz
        Don't start with GNUChess or XBoard, which only do very basic chess, don't have any coaching

        3) Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
        Yes it's a game. It's als
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JesseMcDonald (536341)

          Regarding your first point: X-Plane [x-plane.com] is an advanced commercial flight simulator package available for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. It should compare favorably with MS Flight Simulator.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ianare (1132971)
          Photoshop CS2 is usable [winehq.org] in Linux now.
          I still have a windows partition on my home computer , but I find myself really only using it for games. At work all our dev boxes are linux.

          Remember when the biggest issue with Linux was the lack of drivers? Lack of applications is the next challenge, one that is getting closer to being solved all the time.
  • Of Course! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <[AdHocTechGuy] [at] [aol.com]> on Saturday May 10, 2008 @11:58AM (#23361362) Journal

    Limiting the hardware specs ensures a healthy profit margin on the OS. Sounds like good business.

    We wouldn't want folks loading "WinXP lite" on good hardware. It might run really fast and have fewer conflicts, then they'll come to expect that from us in other products.

  • Can someone convince me that these devices are [very] useful to the point of replacing the notebook? You see, I will be returning to this September and would like to consider one of these devices as a replacement for a notebook. Can I for example, load OpenOffice.org on the Eee PC?
    • by symbolset (646467) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:10PM (#23361484) Homepage Journal

      Can someone convince me that these devices are [very] useful to the point of replacing the notebook?

      The point isn't really to replace the notebook. They'll do that too, though. A modern laptop is ridiculously overpowered for the purpose of running a well designed OS and office application. The idea is to make it cheap enough to not freak out about breaking it, to provide enough power to do your stuff but not so much that you have to be chained to a wall wart to accomplish anything that takes more than two hours.

      Can I for example, load OpenOffice.org on the Eee PC?

      Yes. And it runs just fine. And with Compiz the visual effects are flashier than Aero if you want them to be. And it will play HD video just fine. And it's got all the wireless features you would expect. And on and on. The screen and keyboard are a little small. The next generation may be better in this regard.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)
        exactly, I was STILL using a Dell Latitude C610 with a 1.0Ghz P3 up till 3 months ago. Used iTunes, firefox, open office, YouTube, the whole thing. HD video is out, but other than that it was perfectly functional. Those things STILL sell for $300 on Ebay! The eeePC is just a smaller version of the same thing. Figure the processor is a little more efficient and the ram a bunch faster, and what was a $1500 laptop is now $500 and 1/3 the cost & size!
    • by Znork (31774)
      Can someone convince me that these devices are [very] useful to the point of replacing the notebook?

      Do you consider your notebook a replacement for your desktop? If it is, then I'd say no, it's not a good replacement.

      Personally, however, I don't consider a notebook a useful replacement for a desktop, nor do I consider most notebooks portable enough to even merit bothering with. Some handhelds are there, but are crippled by less-than-useful software, and some ultraportables are there, but are crippled by ins
    • by sgtrock (191182)
      Ummm, OO.o is /already/ installed on the Linux EEE. As is Skype, Firefox, a ton of KDE apps and applets, etc.

      This is going to sound kind of snarky, and I apologize for that. But still. Have you bothered to read any of the reviews of the EEE that have come out? Bothered to spend a minute or two Googling eee and OO.o? These are questions that were answered before you posted.
    • I'm, using my Eee PC every day, but certainly not with Windows. Although I can run Win XP in Virtualbox on it, that was just for a lark. Since the Windows display is not properly configurable like Linux, running Windows on these machines is a pain.
  • Funny (Score:3, Funny)

    by present_arms (848116) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:01PM (#23361378)
    How the hardware isn't crippled until Windows is installed on it :;)
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:01PM (#23361384)
    Do business schools teach their students that it is somehow a good idea to accept the terms of a "discount" from one supplier that require you to ship a POS product, when if you go with another supplier, it's absolutely free and you can sell whatever you want?

    It seems people were buying the EeePC just the way it was, with Linux and all, and using it just fine. I can't speak to it myself, as I have no use for such a device. However, what rationale is there for screwing up a perfectly good market just to make Microsoft happy, when they weren't a player to begin with?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The one and only reason I can see for Microsoft to do this is also the reason any company would do anything: survival!

      I may be wrong, but I think the low-cost market is a brilliant market for Linux to use to slowly move into the mainstream desktop area. As such, this is a market that Microsoft must dominate if they are not to loose the battle before the war has begun.

      Consider what would happen if Microsoft did nothing about dead-cheap laptops being sold with Linux on them: first of all, average Joe w
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fermion (181285)
        From a business point of view, this is competition, something we have not seen in a while. For the past several years two things have been driving computer prices and computer use. First, MS sets the base price of OEM computers by fixing the price of the OS and the minimum requirements. IN exchange for accepting the MS guidance, MS prices retail versions of the OS at prices that encourage consumers to buy a new computer instead of upgrading. Since machines have become very cheap, MS was forced to have t
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:02PM (#23361388) Journal

    The first is that they limit screen size and also prevent you from having touch screens. Maybe it's just me, but the probability of any device I own having a touch screen goes up the smaller the screen size is, so this seems like they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    The other thing that really leaps out is this:

    The goal apparently is to limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don't eat into the market for mainstream PCs
    I can think of a lot of other companies that have tried to limit the capabilities of products in one market segment so that they don't compete with those in another (IBM with the PC, SGI with low-end graphics hardware) but I can't think of a single company where the approach has resulted in anything other than them losing the market to a competitor. Maybe the MS monopoly is so strong that they can do this, but I doubt it somehow.
    • The first is that they limit screen size and also prevent you from having touch screens. Maybe it's just me, but the probability of any device I own having a touch screen goes up the smaller the screen size is, so this seems like they are shooting themselves in the foot.

      But all we're really talking about is a discount. If you want a little tiny Windows PC with a touch screen, you can OEM XP for the "regular" price. As if you'd want to - XP doesn't work all that well with touch screens anyway. And Vista

    • IBM with the PC

      And then IBM tried to protect the IBM PC market from lower-price competition with the crippled PC-Jr.

  • XP Home only (Score:5, Informative)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:02PM (#23361394) Homepage Journal

    So if you're looking for thin & light notebooks to join your AD domain, you still need the Linux ones.

    They've just defined the features for the next big Linux boom: 12" touch screen, 100GB HDD, dual core. That was clever. Differentiate your product as the less capable one. Genius!

    These machines will never run Vista well. Let's keep that important knowledge in front of people. Intel expects to move 10 million Atom platforms in the first wave, and none will have Vista.

  • Bah! (Score:5, Informative)

    by njcoder (657816) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:04PM (#23361416)
    I don't know about ultra low cost pc's but I've held on to an old laptop that's falling apart, had a failing drive and the replacement never quite fit so I just pulled it out and have been using a Damn Small Linux CD to boot so I can browse the web and even VNC into my main desktop.

    I also found this today. MilaX [milax.org] which claims to be like DSL but is based on OpenSolaris. But it doesn't look like that POS laptop will be able to run this.

    MS is planning on charging betweek $26-$32 bucks for Windows XP Home Edition for these machines. That's still a significant cost compared to the price of these machines. Especially the One Laptop Per Child based on reports of what they're planning on charging. But then again it seems their prototypes wound up being 2x as much as planned.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ozbird (127571)
      MS is planning on charging betweek $26-$32 bucks for Windows XP Home Edition for these machines.

      I note with interest on the "Windows Life-Cycle Policy" page that despite Windows XP Retail and OEM licenses are being dropped on 30 Jun 2008, and System Builder licenses on 31 January 2009, there's now a little footnote:

      As of April 2008, Microsoft is extending availability of Windows XP Home Edition for OEMs to install on Ultra Low-Cost PCs. The new OEM end date will be the later of either June 30, 2010, or o

  • If Microsoft attempts to force manufacturers to cripple their products, it is going to be hit hard by antitrust authorities, as this is a clear-cut case of monopoly abuse. So the Europeans will draw more cash from Microsoft and the American politicians will increase their pardon fees. At one point, this is not going to be financially profitable to Microsoft: European antitrust penalty + American pardon fees + very little money from the crippled computers = net loss. So their only goal seems to be killing th
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:13PM (#23361504) Journal
    With MS trying hard to limit a company's hardware, that means that they will prevent sony and others from competing directly. So NOW is the time to start a hardware company. Do several platforms. The first being something that is XO style. Then go to next levels, which would be just above what MS is blocking. At that level, make it have touch screen. And of course, make it with some form of OSS (most likely Linux). This will allow you to hold down costs, and compete against the big boys
  • With the EeePC Microsoft got a deal. ASUS ships the EeePC with Microsoft Windows XP and with Linux. But Linux users won't get the EeePC cheaper - the have to buy a bundle with another memory card. So both varieties of the EeePC cost the same.
    • Re:E.g. EeePC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mabhatter654 (561290) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:09PM (#23361882)
      bingo, that's why everybody is squealing. Asus cut the harware specs to cover the windows costs. To the average user, it will look like two things cost the same one "broken" without Windows but a few GB of ram (who cares about 8GB when there's 500B drives for cheap?) Stores simply won't sell without windows, and I'm sure MS has advertising agreements to sell the Windows stickers with big box stores so the Linux version won't see shelf space.

      On another note, a lot of good the "patent" agreement did Xandros here. They got "blessing" to sell their linux with windows "compatible" functions only to have Microsoft come and eat their lunch when they actually make sales.
  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by suso (153703) * on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:32PM (#23361620) Homepage Journal
    It is an effort to stop Linux dominating this market

    Whoa, we're dominating a desktop market? That's awesome!

    Sometimes, when you turn around and look at the path that FLOSS has made over the past two decades, you just have to be proud. Way to go everyone!
  • It's starting to feel like the good ol' days.

    I've missed this. Like an alcoholic having his first sip of the sauce after 4 or 5 years.

    Aaaaaaah that's good stuff.
  • by tsa (15680)
    Frpm TFA: Imposing the limitations solves a number of problems for the PC industry, said industry analyst Roger Kay, president of EndPoint Technologies Associates. "It allows PC makers to offer a low-cost alternative, and it prevents eroding of pricing and margins in the mainstream OS market," he said.

    It also stifles progress but of course that is not so important. And I'd like to know what the EU has to say about this new monopoly abuse from MS.

  • where's the value for the consumer in this -- when the reasoning is to 'limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don't eat into the market for mainstream PCs running Windows Vista'...??

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:42PM (#23361668)
    Why would anybody in their right mind:

    1: Give up the immunity necklace?

    2: Let Microsoft dictate their product design, especially into a less competitive stance?

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:47PM (#23361708) Homepage

    The PC industry is terrified of low-cost laptops. They see $199 laptops in bubble packs at every WalMart, with a profit of about $1 per unit. Dell is in trouble; their custom-build business model is dying. So Microsoft's approach to driving up prices looks attractive.

    It won't last, but it might be good for a few years.

  • ...imagine ten years from now what the computers are going to be like and the price on them.

    Imagine paying more for one of these low cost computers running windowsXP than you will in buying something more powerful and for a price half of what you'd pay for one of these.
    Technology advancement is not going to stop, nor is the power increase of computer technology.
    Yet the constraints MS is trying to apply is not designed with such industry advancement in mind, but rather trying to get better in on a market tod
  • by wertigon (1204486) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:14PM (#23361928)
    It's time for manufacturers to tell Microsoft "Look, we do this on our terms. If you want to cooperate on our terms, fine. If not, then take your fucking ball and go home!"

    Seriously, there's a great alternative out there. Microsoft is, for the first time in a very long time, in a position not as the big bully, but as the kid trying to get popular. Let's see how they manage to cope with this...
  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:27PM (#23362018) Homepage
    That is an abuse of power gained through their monopoly. They know users would feel more comfortable with Windows so companies would like to use it so they're offering it at a low price but forcing companies to hold back on innovation.

    If this is true then people should complain to their governments. I'm sure we can count on the US gov doing nothing about it but hopefully the EU will put a stop to that at least happening over here.
  • A modest projection (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vtcodger (957785) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:30PM (#23362044)
    Open source is likely to be a very good software environment when it is finished. However, that will take at least a decade, maybe two.

    Microsoft OTOH is caught in a dead end. The only chance I can see for them to be relevant 20 years from now is a gamble and not at favorable odds. They need to loose WGA, meaningless product definition, and all the other annoying and ineffective marketing tricks and focus their considerable talents on building the best servers and desktop systems they possibly can. They have lost over a decade since their last user oriented release (Windows 95) and will already be playing catch up in many areas.

    Yes, they will leave money on the table short term. But if they can get their act together, they may have an expanding base of happy and enthusiastic customers ten years from now. If they don't do that, they are doomed to lose out to Apple, Open Source, and Google who do have such a base.

    BTW, I just had to deal with a series of hardware and software meltdowns that required getting both a Windows XP and a Linux PC up with just basic install software and a backup of the old applications. Neither operation was fun, but Windows was especially awful -- a sort of ongoing horror show of stupid and arbitrary constraints on what could be done and how it could be done. The only place where Windows was clearly superior was in installation of a network printer. And eventually CUPS will be usable by mere mortals, so Windows won't even have that to brag about.

    To sum it up. Windows and Open Source both have a long way to go. Open Source looks to be chugging along. Windows is lost in a horrendous swamp. It isn't hard to see the eventual outcome.

  • All about the UMPC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @04:01PM (#23363278) Journal
    These hardware restrictions, particularly the ban on touchscreens, lead me to suspect that what MS is really trying to protect, without totally giving the new tiny-cheap-laptop field to Linux, is the UMPC. Remember, "UMPC [wikipedia.org]" doesn't just mean "little laptop". UMPCs were supposed to be a bold new category, remember all the "Origami" hype? Essentially, the vision of small, portable computing that MS specced out was that of fairly powerful devices, with touch screens required and keyboards optional, running straight Windows Vista and accompanying software, with a touch screen interface slapped on top. Unfortunately for them, the "fairly powerful" requirement made UMPCs surprisingly expensive and made their battery life suck pitifully, without actually making Vista run all that well.

    The first few versions utterly sucking is something that MS is used to, so there was reason to believe that they would work this one out as well. Costs would gradually go down, chips would get less power hungry, and so on, and the UMPC would eventually worm its way in. Then the eeePC and friends show up(arguably, the tradition of tiny laptops goes back a long way, various PC makers have been pumping them out for years, although in small quantities and at high costs, and the OLPC project can be said to have spurred cheap, small laptops; but the eeePC was the first to hit the western mass market). Compared to the UMPC, the eeePC and similar are pretty boring tech. Just normal laptops; but smaller. Thing is, this is one of those situations where modest ambitions are a real blessing. UMPC goals required hardware that was either unavailable or too expensive. eeePC goals required nothing more than the willingness to slap together parts that are already cheap and common. Even if the eeePC and its ilk were all running XP from the get-go, they would still be a kick in the teeth for the UMPC. I doubt that the category is dead; but the road to acceptance, particularly for consumer level applications, became much steeper and much rockier with the advent of the eeePC and similar. The fact that Linux is showing up for the party is adding insult to injury.

    I'm thinking that the hardware restrictions serve a few purposes:
    Keep a clear distinction between UMPC(now positioned as "premium") and the teeny laptop("budget"). Teeny laptops kill UMPCs at being cheap; but MS hopes, at least, to preserve certain features as UMPC only.
    Keep Linux from creeping upward. Obviously, MS doesn't like any machines not running Windows; but they would rather preserve a "linux=cheap gadget/Windows=real computer" distinction than not. By not allowing high end features to creep in(or, at least, forcing OEMs to make more hardware variants if they do), MS can keep eee type boxes from gradually shading into full computers or "premium" small computers.
    • Many UMPCs run XP (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rob Simpson (533360)
      Actually, most UMPCs run XP or Linux - and all of the decent ones [umpcportal.com]. Many aren't that expensive... not as cheap as the eee, but comparable to a conventional budget laptop. And the Raon Everun [pdaplaza.ca] gets 4 to 5 hours with real-life use... double the battery life of the eee. With the extended battery, it gets up to 11 hours. Unlike the eee, it's barely warm to the touch and is nearly silent. Unfortunately, the Geode processor is a bit underpowered (hopefully there'll be an Atom version) and the unique hardware is not

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